Sunday, August 03, 2014

- - Julep | An Extensive Guide to the Maven Subscription - -

Hi everyone,

Today's post is going to be fairly lengthy, but if you're genuinely interested in learning a lot about Julep's Maven subscription I think this post will be worth your while.

I'm writing about Julep today mainly because I keep seeing the wrong information about the Maven subscription all over the place. So hopefully this basic guide will include everything you need to know about what the subscription entails - both the good and the not so good.

Within the past six months, Julep has changed two major aspects of its Maven subscription: (1) the skipping option, and (2) the subscription plan itself. I'll discuss both of these in some detail throughout this post.

But first - what is Julep?
Julep is an online retailer that was founded in 2007 which specializes in nail care and beauty products. They currently have four nail salons in Washington. In addition to all this, Julep comes out with a new collection of nail polishes and certain new beauty products every month and distributes these via their Maven subscription.

Part of the November 2013 Right At Home Collection

What makes Julep different?
One of the things I really like about Julep is their ideology. On all of their packaging you'll see the quote: "We believe beauty is about connection, not competition." Despite selling products and existing in a competitive market, I do believe that Julep was founded and continues to exist with good intentions at heart.

There's also that whole idea that Julep is "powered by girlfriends." I'll be honest - I love talking about Julep and I find it special that I can bond with my girlfriends over nail polish. I've had the chance to interact with people dear to me and I've had the chance to develop friendships (even online) because of Julep, so I definitely see how this company brings women closer together. To also go along with the Powered by Girlfriends program, Julep donates a portion of their proceeds to various charities that support women. In fact, from time to time you'll see certain nail polishes that are created specifically to help with fundraising for certain initiatives (for example Julep created the polish, Malala, of which 100% of the proceeds go to the Malala Fund).

The other thing I really like about Julep is that they listen to their customers. Julep isn't perfect and a lot of people do still complain; however, they have implemented many changes in the past based on the concerns of their customers.

What exactly is a Maven Subscription?
The Maven subscription is a service that allows you to try new nail polishes and beauty products for $24.99/month. If you pre-pay for three months, you can get this price down to $19.99/month, which is the cost that this service had originally before box customization was introduced in June 2014. The $24.99/mo plan is the most basic plan there is and it's called My Maven. There is also the Maven Luxe subscription option, but I'll talk about this later.

For $24.99 you are looking at receiving three products in your box each month - what these products are depend on how you want to customize your box (for example, there are typically two nail polishes and some sort of beauty product). If you don't want to customize your box, you can always choose a box that is pre-arranged for a specific "style profile" (more about this below).

In terms of the retail value that Julep places on its products, you're looking at around $40 worth of products per box - meaning that the 3 items you choose will be worth around $40 altogether.

The selection window to choose/customize your box is from the 20th-24th every month. During this time you can change your customization, select add-ons and/or swap out your regular box for an upgrade.

Please note that Mavens get billed on the 27th of each month.

You probably have even more questions at this point, so let's take things one step at a time.

February 2014 Dramatic Collection

What are Style Profiles and what's included in their boxes?
You know how there are many quizzes out there that help to pinpoint your style? The Julep Style Profiles are a way to do the same thing. I'm not sure if there's still a quiz that you take when you're signing up to be a Maven, but you are still able to take it here. As a point of reference, I've compiled the descriptions of each Style Profile (as defined by Julep) along with what you can expect in each box, below:

Boho Glam: You’re a dynamic free spirit with a creative eye. You favour a mix of earthy tones and playful, vibrant colours. (Box includes: 2 nail polishes & 1 full-size beauty product)

Bombshell: You’re a confident frill-seeker with magnetic appeal. You love bold, glam colours and anything that sparkles. (Box includes: 2 nail polishes & 1 full-size beauty product)

Classic With A Twist: You’re an iconic beauty with a timeless aesthetic. You're drawn to chic, elegant colours that pair well with any occasion. (Box includes: 2 nail polishes & 1 full-size beauty product)

It Girl: You’re a colourful trendsetter who’s not afraid to be bold. You're into cutting-edge colours and finishes that make a statement. (Box includes: 3 nail polishes)

Modern Beauty: You’re a savvy tastemaker obsessed with the art and science of beauty. You're always first to try the latest, most innovative products. (Box includes: 2 full-size beauty products) 

You get to decide what to do - you can either let the quiz determine what your Style Profile is (I got Bombshell) or you can choose it yourself (I usually drift between Boho Glam and Classic With A Twist). If you ever don't want to customize your box, you can either choose one of the 5 curated boxes for each style or you can just have Julep send you the box for your default style. 

Please note that you can't switch your default Style Profile during the Maven window (20th-24th of each month) but that doesn't mean that you can't choose a box outside of your Style Profile...hope that makes sense!

January 2014 Modern Beauty box (Boudoir Collection)

What do some of these Style Profile boxes look like?
Here is a random sample of box selections from Julep's December 2013 Collection as seen on

Classic With a Twist + Tania as an add-on (Riviera Collection)

Add-ons, Upgrades and Maven Luxe

Add-ons: Each month as you select what goes into your box you are given 3 slots for adding on extra products. The products you get to choose from typically include polishes from the collection a month prior, polishes from the new collection, select core Julep products, duos, sets, and upgrades. The benefit of purchasing these products as add-ons is that they are cheaper than what you would be paying for them at full-price.

Upgrades: There are usually at least two upgrades each month. Typically you'll see a Polish Lover's Upgrade (includes all of the nail polishes from the new collection) and the Ultimate Upgrade (includes all of the nail polishes + the feature beauty product(s) from the new collection). The former is pretty straightforward, but the latter does change from time to time as the beauty products vary with each collection.

The Polish Lover's Upgrade for May 2014

Maven Luxe: If you're finding that you're often adding on tons of extra product in your monthly box, you may want to consider signing up for the Maven Luxe plan.  It costs $39.99/month (or $34.99/month when you pre-pay for three months), but you get to customize a box with $60+ worth of products (Julep retail value) - meaning, you get to have more items in your box. Plus Maven Luxe ladies get to choose products from a bigger pool of core Julep products.

If you're new to the Maven subscription, then I suggest just sticking with My Maven (basic subscription plan - see above) and switching over to Maven Luxe if you decide it's worth it. You're able to switch back and forth the two plans - you just need to email customer service a request to do so.

Polishes from April 2014 Vivd Collection

Can I skip a month?
The short answer is - you can, but it will take you six months of taking Maven boxes to earn a skip.

Here's a bit of a longer answer - in December 2013 Julep changed their skipping policy so that anyone signing up after December 18 would be allowed one skip after having the subscription for six month. Anyone who signed up before this is still able to skip every month. I don't think this is a fair policy for new customers, nor do I agree with how this change was announced (it wasn't announced officially until January). It is usually stated that companies can change their policies without notice, so I guess kudos to Julep for not keeping silent completely.

First box I got to customize - July 2014 Poolside Collection

Any benefits to being a Maven? 
Yes! Here's a list of perks you get as a Maven: 

- - Quite a lot of variety in how you can customize your box each month
- - Get your first box for free (see below)
- - First access to new nail polishes and beauty products (selection window: 20th-24th each month)
- - Add-on and upgrades are available - - Earn Jules (points) with each box that you can later redeem for products and boxes (2000 Jules = a free box!) - - Free shipping! - - 20% off at the Julep online store - - A "secret shop" opens on the 1st of every month and stays open for 72 hours. It includes products at up to 65% off.

My first & free box from Julep

What is this free box offer everyone's talking about?
As a way of enticing you to sign up for the Maven monthly subscription, Julep has an awesome offer that allows you to get your first Maven box (which has a retail value of $62) for $2.99 (the cost of shipping). So, essentially, you're getting your first Maven box free - you just need to pay a little for shipping and this will be the only time you're charged for shipping (unless you ever choose expediated shipping).

You can see the promotional page for what you get here (please note that the products may vary). Make sure to enter code HELLOYOU at checkout. A kind thank you to anyone who would like to use my referral link when signing up.

** Please note that once you sign up for the free box, you are signing up for the Maven subscription, which renews automatically every month - I can't stress this enough. **

- - - The Not So Good - - -

If I ever sign up for anything online, I usually do a background check of sorts. I basically go on the web and see what people are saying about the company I am signing up for. This is important to do because certain subscriptions have been known to have some sketchy practices (such as the Canadian GlossyBox and Glymm). Let's admit it - while no company is perfect, at the end of the day you want to be signing up for a legitimate and worthwhile service. By the way, for anyone who relies heavily on the Better Business Bureau (BBB), here's an interesting article you might want to check out.

As a way of helping you out I've compiled a list of the major concerns that people have voiced over Julep. I have also included my own opinions about these concerns. Anyways, here are the issues in no order in particular:

Pricing of Products
If you consider the non-Maven prices of Julep products - things are fairly expensive! A bottle of Julep nail polish is 8 mL/0.27 fl oz and costs $14.00. If you're a Maven, this price goes down to $11.20, which is still kind of a lot especially considering the volume of the bottle. While what someone considers expensive varies from person to person, I want to point out that it IS possible to not spend that much on Julep products and have a fairly good collection. For example, it's better to be part of the Maven program because you get to try out new polishes/products before they become available to the public and start selling at regular price.

If you're building your Julep collection I would suggest starting off with the purchase of mystery boxes because these are often full of nail polishes (not necessarily from the newer collections though) and are typically priced at $24.99/per box. If you would like to take a look at some of the mystery boxes Julep has released, you can take a look at these:

[March 2014] Lucky Mystery Boxes: Shannon | Taryn | 100% Mystery

It's also good to take advantage of the nail polish duos - which often sell for $9.99 - if you want to build your Julep collection. Finally, Julep often promotes certain sets and has great offers, so you just need to look out for those.

Formula of Nail Polishes, Peeling, and Staining
Many people have expressed that Julep polishes have a gloopy consistency. I do agree that many of the polishes may have a thicker consistency than what you may be used to. It also doesn't help that the polishes typically dry very quickly so the bottle may need some shaking during your manicure. However, there have only been a few nail polishes from my Julep collection that I've been completely frustrated to work with because of their formula. On the whole, I typically don't mind the Julep formula.

In terms of staining, I've only had a couple of nail polishes (one was Michelle) that left some sort of mark on my nails after removal. The reality is that your nails can be stained by any kind of brand of nail polish - especially if you're dealing with blues, yellows, or greens. A way to prevent staining is to use a good base coat. A Julep product - Vanish - also helps remove staining a little bit.

The only serious problem that I've ever had with Julep is that I noticed my nails started peeling right after I tried out the Oxygen Nail Treatment a few months ago. I stopped using it immediately, but I unfortunately still struggle with peeling from time to time. However, my mom has been using the Oxygen Nail Treatment pretty often with no problems at all, so sometimes nail chemistry is to blame when products don't work well with our nails.

Shipping is too slow
It used to be that when I first signed up for Julep back in October 2013, I would get my packages in just over a week (which is typical for really good shipping service to Canada). What changed was that Julep switched over to DHL shipping and so for most of the year my packages have been taking just over 2 weeks to arrive. Even so, I'd typically get my Maven box around the 6th every month. July, however, was the worst month for shipping because I ended up getting my Maven box on the 18th - a mere 2 days before the selections for the August box. Pretty sucky, no?

Julep has actually addressed the super slow shipping issue. I believe that most people (if not everyone) received a note with the shipment confirmation email for the July Maven box, which stated that since Julep isn't allowed to ship nail polish by air they have to send packages via ground transportation, and it's going to take a little bit longer to receive a Maven box. Along with an apology, 100 Jules were given out to compensate for the delay. 100 Jules isn't a lot (considering that you need 2000 to get a free box), but it is something.

You'll be glad to know that changes ARE taking place. On July 23 Julep put up a Facebook post saying that they will no longer be shipping packages via DHL and that they will be sending out boxes "from a more central location in Ohio" to help improve transit times. Julep will be using FedEx to transport packages, so I'm excited to see how this will work out for Canadians.  

Photoshopping skintones for swatches
While I think that photoshopping is a process that saves a lot of time, I do understand why certain people may be irked by it. I'm not going to say much about this issue because I'm just going to leave you with this - Julep heard its customers and they addressed this issue last week.

"I ordered the free box for $2.99 and now I see an extra charge for $24.99. What a scam!"
This is the one complaint that always has me rolling my eyes. Do people just not read what they are signing up for? When you order your first box you are consenting to enter the monthly Maven membership. Before you agree to anything, spend at least 15 minutes looking around the website - making sure to read through the FAQ page - to understand what exactly you are agreeing to. I get that people make mistakes, but you have to read the fine print no matter how tedious or boring it may be - it may save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

Another thing I suggest is that if you just want the free box offer don't wait until you actually receive your box to cancel. Start looking into cancelling your account the same day as you place your order so that you're not surprised if the shipping take a little while and you get charged $24.99 because the next payment period rolls around (billing takes place on the 27th of each month).

It's a colossal effort just to cancel your account
I have actually never had any first-hand experience with cancellation, but it's become super depressing to go to the comments section of the Julep Facebook page and see people complaining about the difficulty of cancelling their account.

One of the things that Julep has always advertised is the fact that you can cancel anytime - even right after ordering your first box for free. You used to have to cancel your account by phone, but recently Julep has introduced an email where you can send in your request. Regardless, people seem to be having problems with both methods of cancellation.

I don't believe that Julep is making things difficult on purpose and I'm sure that they don't want all the negative feedback - I simply believe that their customer service team is just not big enough right now to deal with the recent explosion of popularity that their company has experienced. I can't recall where, but I do remember Julep adressing this issue - saying that they are in the process of hiring more people to satisfy the demands of customers. Moreover, I remember reading somewhere that Julep currently has a backlog of cancellations, so that is what's causing the long delays in getting back to people.

The last thing I will say is that I know people who have had no trouble at all cancelling their account, so it's not like every single person will experience these difficulties. It's just typical for people who have something bad to say to be the ones voicing their opinions. At the same time, I do hope that everyone who is struggling to cancel their account will be helped out by Julep and that everything will be sorted out.

Customer Service is Lacking
Again, if you've had to wait several days for an email response from Julep's team, I don't believe it's because they don't care about their customers. I've contacted customer service on several occasions via email and they have always been very helpful. Most recently (last week actually) I wanted to change subscription plans and sent an email to Julep. Immediately through an automated system I received an email back saying that they had gotten my request, but because they were dealing with tons of emails right now they would get back to me in 3-4 days. Guess what? I waited patiently and they did get back to me within the promised time period. Just be patient, my friends. I'm sure that Julep will pick themselves up soon and start fixing their problems.


I think that's pretty much everything that I wanted to say about the Julep Maven subscription. If I'm missing anything or if you still have any questions or concerns feel free to either comment below or contact me at:

Just in case you scrolled down without reading anything - the whole point of this post was to say that Julep is not perfect, but it's definitely not a scam.

What do I get out of telling you this? Nothing. There are no affiliate links in this post or anything like that. I just really like this company and it makes me sad to see tons of negative comments about it.

If at the end of all this you still want to give Julep a try (I hope that you've read everything above and know what you're signing up for) you're welcome to use my referral link in signing up if you'd like. Thank you kindly, in advance. Remember to use code HELLOYOU at checkout to get that free box that I mentioned earlier.

Also, if you would like to check out any of my previous Maven box reviews, you can find links to them all here:

Do you subscribe to Julep? I'd love to hear your thoughts about the subscription!

Thank you for reading! -A.~

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